Alexandra Castillo-RuizAssistant Research Professor Neuroscience
BSc, Universidad Nacional Agraria, Peru, 2001
MA, Michigan State University, USA, 2007
PhD, Michigan State University, USA, 2010
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA, 2010 – 2014
Postdoctoral Fellow, Georgia State University, USA, 2014 – 2018
Developmental Neurobiology, Circadian Rhythms, Neuroendocrinology
Dr. Castillo-Ruiz received her BSc from Universidad Nacional Agraria in Peru and then completed her MA and PhD in the lab of Dr. Antonio Nunez at Michigan State University, where she studied neural substrates of circadian rhythmicity in diurnal and nocturnal rodents. As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. William Schwartz at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, she studied the effects of the social environment on circadian rhythms at the brain and behavioral levels. In her second postdoc with Dr. Nancy Forger, and now as a professor, she investigates the role that birth plays on brain and behavioral development. To this aim, she manipulates events and milestones associated with birth, including mode and timing of birth, and microbiota colonization. Her research is revealing a role for birth as an orchestrator of brain development.
Dr. Castillo-Ruiz also teaches neuroscience classes at the undergraduate and graduate level and mentors undergraduate and graduate students in neuroscience research.
Birth and brain development
Castillo-Ruiz A, Hite TA, Yakout DW, Rosen TJ, Forger NG (2020). Does birth trigger cell death in the developing brain? eNeuro (In press)
Jacobs AJ, Castillo-Ruiz A, Cisternas CD, Forger NG (2019). Microglial depletion causes region-specific changes to developmental neuronal cell death in the mouse brain. Developmental Neurobiology 79(8): 769-779.
Castillo-Ruiz A, Mosley M, Jacobs AJ, Hoffiz Y, Forger NG (2018). Birth delivery mode alters perinatal cell death in the mouse brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115: 11826-11831.
Castillo-Ruiz A, Mosley M, George AJ, Mussaji LF, Fullerton EF, Ruszkowski EM, Jacobs AJ, Gewirtz AT, Chassaing B, Forger NG (2018). The microbiota influences cell death and microglial colonization in the perinatal mouse brain. Brain, Behavior and Immunity 67:218-229.
Williams de Castro M, Castillo-Ruiz A, Rosas C (2003) Observaciones preliminares sobre comportamiento prenatal y postnatal de Rattus rattus var. norvegicus (Linneo 1758) en laboratorio. Ecologia Aplicada (2): 23- 26.
Development of sex differences in the brain
Cisternas CD, Cortes LR, Golynker I, Castillo-Ruiz A, Forger NG (2019) Neonatal inhibition of DNA methylation disrupts testosterone-dependent masculinization of neurochemical phenotype. Endocrinology (In press).
Fields CT, Chassaing B, Castillo-Ruiz A, Osan R, Gewirtz AT, de Vries G (2018). Effects of gut-derived endotoxin on anxiety-like and repetitive behaviors in male and female mice. Biology of Sex Differences 9(1): 7.
Mosley M, Weathington J, Cortes L, Bruggeman E, Castillo-Ruiz A, Xue B, Forger NG (2017) Neonatal inhibition of DNA methylation alters cell phenotype in sexually dimorphic regions of the mouse brain. Endocrinology 158(6):1838-1848.
Forger NG, Strahan JA, Castillo-Ruiz A (2016) Cellular and molecular mechanisms of sexual differentiation in the nervous system. Front Neurosci 40: 67- 86.
Effects of the social environment on circadian rhythmicity
Castillo-Ruiz A, Premananda I, Schwartz WJ (2018). Time management in a co-housed social rodent species (Arvicanthis niloticus). Scientific Reports 8: 1202.
Castillo-Ruiz A, Paul MJ, Schwartz WJ (2012) In search of a temporal niche: Social interactions. Progress in Brain Research 199: 267- 280.
Neural substrates of circadian rhythmicity in diurnal and nocturnal rodents
Braun MC, Castillo-Ruiz A, Indic P, Kim J, Brown RH, Swoap SJ, Schwartz WJ (2019). Defective daily temperature regulation in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Experimental Neurology 311: 305-312.
Castillo-Ruiz A, Gall AJ, Smale L, Nunez AA (2013) Day-night differences in neural activation in histaminergic and serotonergic areas with putative projections to the cerebrospinal fluid in a diurnal brain. Neuroscience 250: 352–363.
Castillo-Ruiz A, Nunez AA (2011) Fos expression in arousal and reward areas of the brain in grass rats following induced wakefulness. Physiol Behav 103 (3-4): 384-392.
Castillo-Ruiz A, Nixon JP, Smale L, Nunez AA (2010) Neural activation in arousal and reward areas of the brain in day-active and night-active grass rats. Neuroscience 165 (2): 337-349.
Castillo-Ruiz A, Nunez AA (2007) Cholinergic projections to the suprachiasmatic nucleus and lower subparaventricular zone in diurnal and nocturnal rodents. Brain Res 1151: 91-101.